Tag Archives: Metroplex

That wasn’t much fun

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We moved from what I have called The Texas Tundra to what I thought was something of a Banana Belt.

Silly me.

Rolling blackouts? Never experienced ’em in the Panhandle in our 23 years living there. I am sure some folks have experienced the joy of going without power for, oh, an hour or two to save energy.

However, the blackout from which we have just emerged wasn’t the “rolling” kind. It turns out that the power grid that serves the state of Texas isn’t equipped to handle zero-degree temperatures with extended regions of the vast state enduring wind chills in the neighborhood of minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

We don’t have water just yet. The power went out at the Princeton water treatment plant, too. I have been advised by a neighbor in the know that the water will be flowing “in a few hours.”

I realize this might be a once-in-a-lifetime event for a lot of us. The wind chill factors have been punishing to say the least.

Our power went out late Sunday. It came back on for a time in wee hours Monday, then we went dark again. We awoke Monday to no electricity, but we had water. The temperature was about 15 degrees and heading south in a hurry.

We turned in early Monday night because the house was dark, we couldn’t read. So we figured, “What the hey?” We woke up this morning still with no lights.

Oh, and the temperature registered zero … degrees. 

The water went out during the night. We got up once or twice, turned on the faucets to let it drip. It did for a time. Then it stopped.

We hope we have powered through this crisis. It’s still early. The power came on and we did what we were advised to do: We unplugged all the unnecessary appliances, such as the toaster, blender, can opener, digital clock, the reclining living room couch.

Pray for us the rest of the way, will ya?

Meanwhile, I need to do a little research to determine whether our city fathers and mothers did all they could do to prepare for this event.

Winter blast is coming

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

You have read blog posts from me over the years about the retirement journey on which my wife and I have embarked.

Well, this weekend that journey is going to provide us with a blast from the past. You see, we moved to the Metroplex a couple of years ago from the Texas Panhandle hoping — among many things — to escape the vicious winter weather that occasionally clobbers the High Plains region of Texas.

They’re telling us we’re going to get a good bit of snow. It will accumulate. The temperature is going to drop from an already frigid 20-something degrees to something a bit below — gulp! — zero degrees Fahrenheit.

I gotta tell ya, I didn’t count on this.

It’s not that we expected to move to the tropics when we relocated from southwest Amarillo, Texas, to Princeton, just a bit northeast of Dallas and, more to the point, only a handful of miles from our granddaughter in Allen.

It’s been said of the Panhandle that one could experience all four seasons in a single day. It’s true! We experienced it a time or two during our 23 years up yonder and, boy howdy, it got really cold.

I will give props to Panhandle motorists on one point. They know how to drive in the snow, in the wind. That’s not quite the case in the Metroplex, or so I have been told.

We’re just going to lie low for a few days waiting for the nasty weather to blow on by.

Our retirement journey has been a joy for both of us, even in this pandemic era through which we all are living. Now we have to cope with Mother Nature’s winter wrath.

Life is good … eh?

Horror on the freeway

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We now live in an era that pays tribute to first responders.

With that, I want to offer a brief salute to the men and women who got a horrifying call Thursday morning: There was a multiple-vehicle pile-up on Interstate 35W in Fort Worth.

They found unimaginable carnage on the highway.

The last I have heard, six people died in the crash. Many more were injured. Some of the motorists suffer life-threatening injuries. News media reports told us chilling stories of responders arriving at the scene and then hearing the anguished cries coming from survivors of the wreckage.

They were screaming for help. They were crying out for their very lives. The videos we witnessed on the news are horrifying in the extreme. Semi trucks plowed into other vehicles; some cars were smashed to smithereens, unrecognizable as vehicles designed to carry human beings presumably safely to and from their homes.

Calls went out for medical, firefighters and police personnel to answer the call. One agency called for every person available.

I should point out that they answered the emergency calls in hideous weather conditions. The highway was covered in that dreaded “black ice.” Take my word for it, your vehicle has virtually no control over such a thing; I have been swept away on a black-ice roadway and it ain’t fun.

So, I want to offer not only a word of deep sympathy to those across the Metroplex who lost loved ones in the horrible event, but a salute to the first responders who reminded us once again why we should cherish the work these gallant folks do on our behalf … to protect and to serve us.

When will GOP pols abandon Trump?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

First, I must acknowledge the obvious, which is that I am far from the political action, as I am sitting in the peanut gallery with a lot of other Americans.

You know that already. My full-time journalism career ended more than eight years ago. However, I have remained friends with many politicians and political observers in Texas.

Which brings me to this point: I am wondering when the Texas Republican Party political apparatus ever is going to turn its back on Donald Trump.

The president appears headed to defeat. I won’t say it’s done deal. It is looking that way.

I am acquainted with a number of GOP pols in the Texas Panhandle, where my wife and I lived for 23 years before gravitating to the Metroplex. Truth be told, I consider a number of those pols to be friends. One of them, a fellow I have known for more than 25 years, has told me privately that Trump must be defeated, that he has been a disaster as president.

He hasn’t said a word publicly, at least nothing that I have heard.

Trump has built a cult of personality across the land. The GOP no longer is a party of principle. It is a party that centers on an individual who, ironically, had zero political cred prior to his become a presidential candidate in 2015. Trump had no public service on his record. He had never sought any public office prior to seeking the Big One.

Indeed, the Republican Party is strong in the Texas Panhandle. So I keep wondering why the GOP political hierarchy continues to stand with Trump. It might be that the Trump “base” that comprise such a large portion of the Republican voting public has threatened reprisal against any pol who dares to speak out against their guy.

I keep reading reports about Capitol Hill Republicans beginning to put distance between themselves and the president. Why? Because Trump has few personal friendships, or longstanding political alliances with members of the GOP caucus in Congress. Still, they remain quiet.

It’s a puzzle to me. Yes, I am far these days from the hustle and the tussle of politics. I do retain a keen interest in it all.

Eight days from Election Day gives these pols some time to collect themselves, muster up some courage and tell us publicly what they likely are thinking in private … which is that Donald Trump is a loser.

Ready for the best season of the year

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

You hear it on occasion: This is my favorite time of the year. My favorite season of the year. Most folks I know keep saying it’s the autumn.

Why? They’ve been through a grueling, boiling-hot summer. The cooler temperatures are a welcome respite from the heat.

That’s not for me. My favorite time of the year is about to arrive. I love the spring. In Texas, spring produces an unusual and often unpredictable series of events.

We have spent 36 winters in Texas. We came initially to the Golden Triangle on the Gulf Coast. Winter in Southeast Texas occasionally was, well, rather un-winterlike. We spent our first Christmas in Beaumont — in 1984 — lounging around in shorts and t-shirts.

Nearly 11 years later we gravitated to the opposite end of the state, settling for 23 years in the Panhandle. The winter there was, shall I say, more like winter in most regions of the world. It got cold … damn cold at times! We had winters with heavy blankets of snow. We also had one hideously dry winter that didn’t produce a single drop of precipitation.

We have moved to the Metroplex. This is our second winter here. It’s been a bit chilly, although not as cold as it often gets up yonder on the Caprock.

Spring is about to arrive. The grass will snap out of its dormancy. The leaves will produce buds. It’s a time of renewal. A time of rebirth. A time that will give way to the fruits and flowers of the season.

Spring in the Panhandle occasionally produces some explosive weather. The wind howls. The storm clouds swirl. It rains hard, man. It would hail on us.

The Metroplex occasionally produces that kind of frightening weather. However, I look forward yet again to the time of year when we spring forward and emerge from our winter doldrum.

It’s my favorite time.

Happy Trails, Part 175: Adaptability accentuated

The longer we live as retired folks, the more I realize just how adaptable I am.

I’ve told you already about how I discovered my adaptability gene when we moved in early 1984 from the community where I was born, was reared, where I came of age, where I got married and where my sons came into this world. We moved from Portland, Ore., to the Golden Triangle of Texas. Talk about culture shock, not to mention humidity shock!

We settled in just fine there.

Then we relocated to Amarillo a mere 11 years later. Once again, we settled in. We sank our roots deeply into the Caprock soil.

Then retirement arrived, albeit a bit unexpectedly. I learned quickly to welcome it. I discovered almost immediately that separation anxiety from work is greatly overrated.

We love telling people that “we’re retired.” We have learned that weekends no longer exist, that every day is a proverbial Saturday.

My wife and I both worked hard at our jobs for many years. We effectively retired the same year.

After living in the Panhandle for more than two decades, we relocated to the Metroplex. Adaptability anyone? We’ve got it in spades, man! We sold our house, we moved into our fifth wheel RV, lived in the “house on wheels” for a few months, then headed down the road, where we found our forever home in Collin County.

I mention all of this because the longer we live here, the longer we go about our days as retired folks, the more comfortable we both feel with this life we have embraced tightly.

At this point in our journey through life, I suspect strongly that our adaptability will start to exhibit some limitation. Neither of us, for example, is going back to work full time.

However, as we look back on our lengthy and fun-filled journey — and speaking only for myself — I am amazed at the adaptable nature I have been able to show … much to my pleasant surprise!

Confession of a weather wimp

I am about to admit something I have resisted admitting.

I am a weather wimp. There. I said it out loud.

The realization came to me this morning while standing next to the fuel pump where I was putting diesel into my big ol’ pickup. The weather is chilly. It is damp. It is dank and dark. Even in Princeton, Texas, where we thought we would enjoy a more temperate climate longer into the autumn.

Oh, no! My teeth were clattering. I kept my hands buried deeply into my pockets. I couldn’t wait for the fuel pump to shut off so I could get the heck outta there, back into the truck and then back to the house.

Maybe it’s a function of age. Maybe I am just getting impatient as I wind my way toward the finish line.

We went through a long, hot summer. I longed for cooler days and nights. I lusted for a bit of rain.

Then, boom! It arrived. With something of a vengeance!

I am not going to complain too loudly about the weather. I know there ain’t a thing I can do about it. The weather is so far out of humankind’s control it’s not even worth the gripes we lay on it. And by all means, I know that many places on Earth have much more severe weather than we get in the Metroplex.

I merely am acknowledging what I’ve known to be true.

I am a weather wimp who is going to start wishing any day now for warmer temperatures … and it’s not even winter yet!

Please forgive me.

That was quite the storm!

I took a job 35 years ago in what I suppose you could call Tornado Country.

We moved our young sons from Oregon to the Golden Triangle of Texas, a region prone to hurricanes and the twisters that spin off the storms as they crash ashore from the Gulf of Mexico.

Then my wife and I moved to Amarillo, which also has experienced its share of tornado-induced misery since the beginning of recorded history. My wife and I once watched a funnel cloud form about a mile west of our house while baseball-sized hail pummeled our dwelling and destroyed our roof.

Then a year ago, my wife and I moved to Collin County in the Metroplex.

Tonight we had our first tornado “experience” since moving to Collin County. All is well and good. The storm passed south of us as well as south of our son, daughter-in-law, our granddaughter and her older brother. Our son’s extended family is safe, too.

However, this is the kind of thing — even after living in Tornado Country for 35 years — that still gives me the heebie-jeebies.

The local weather forecaster broke into a program we were watching to alert us of thunder storms. Then came the “tornado warning,” which means they had spotted a funnel cloud on the ground.

The storm chasers provided some gripping video to go along with the near-frantic commentary coming from the meteorologist. One of them caught a picture of a heavily damaged pickup stalled on Interstate 635; the driver of the truck then gave a thumbs-up to the TV crew that was taking pictures of the damage done by the storm that had roared through the area.

Our son informed us they had storm sirens blaring in Allen. Ours in Princeton stayed silent. We did, however, receive a lot of rain.

The storm has passed on. My hope is that our neighbors to the east stay safe.

How will I sleep tonight? Probably not well. Tomorrow, though, is another day. We’ll see what it brings.

Having trouble letting go

I must admit to a peculiar circumstance that I will not define as a “problem.”

It is an unwillingness to let go of affairs occurring in the city where my wife and I used to live. I refer to Amarillo, Texas, way up yonder in the Texas Panhandle, on the Caprock … in a place I used to “affectionately” refer to as the Texas Tundra.

We moved away a little more than a year ago, yet I am continuing to devote a bit of High Plains Blogger’s posts to events that occur in the Texas Panhandle’s unofficial “capital” city.

You know what? I am going to keep both eyes and both ears attuned to what’s happening there. Why? The city is undergoing a significant change of personality, if not character. I want to watchdog it. I want to keep my channels of communication open to the community my wife and I called home for 23 years.

The truth is my wife and I lived in Amarillo longer than have lived in any community during our nearly 48 years of married life together. We were married in Portland, Ore., but moved to Beaumont 13 years later; we stayed on the Gulf Coast for not quite 11 years before heading northwest to the other end of this vast state.

I enjoyed some modest success during all those years as a working man. Retirement arrived in 2012. We stayed in our home until late 2017. We moved into our recreational vehicle, then sold our house in March 2018. Our granddaughter’s birth in 2013 and our desire to be near her as she grows up lured us to the Metroplex … but you know about that already.

But Amarillo retains a peculiar hold on my interests.

I am delighted with the progress of the city’s downtown redevelopment. The city’s baseball fans are turning out in droves to watch the Sod Poodles play AA minor-league hardball. Texas Tech University is marching full speed toward opening a school of veterinary medicine at Tech’s Health Sciences Center campus at the western edge of Amarillo. The Texas highway department is going to begin work soon on an extension of Loop 335 along Helium Road. Interstates 40 and 27 are under extensive construction.

I want to keep up with the progress that’s occurring in Amarillo.

I also intend to stay alert to problems that might arise along the way.

So, I intend to declare my intention to devote a good bit of this blog for the foreseeable future on matters affecting a fascinating — albeit at times infuriating — community.

Although we no longer call Amarillo our “home,” the community is not far from my heart.

Happy Trails, Part 162: Back to ‘hot and humid’

My wife and I are still in the midst of a wonderful journey through life. Nearly 48 years of marriage have taken us from Portland, Ore., to Beaumont, Texas, to Amarillo, Texas, and now to Princeton, Texas.

We’ve traveled a good bit, seen all but three of our United States and a good bit of the rest of the world.

Our final stop in Princeton, though, is reacquainting us with an aspect of our journey that we didn’t experience in our previous stop.

Humid heat is back in our lives.

We ventured from Portland to Beaumont in 1984, where we learned all about humidity; although I did live for a time in some sticky weather in Vietnam back in the day … but I digress. Take my word for it: You haven’t lived until you’ve gone through a Texas Gulf Coast summer with its requisite stifling heat and equally stifling humidity. I can speak only for myself, so I will: I did not ever totally embrace the humidity down yonder; I merely learned to expect it.

Then we ventured to the Texas Panhandle in early 1995. We spent 23 years there. The heat was the same as it was in the Golden Triangle. The humidity, though, was vastly different. Which is to say it’s the hackneyed “dry heat.” We broke an all-time record in Amarillo one summer when the temperature hit 111 degrees. But when the sun set at the end of that day, the temperature — as it does normally — fell to comfortable levels.

We grew quite used to that sort of high-altitude heat, given that Amarillo is perched atop the Caprock at nearly 3,700 feet above sea level.

Oh, but now it’s different.

We’ve migrated back to the “more humid zone” in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. It’s been blazing hot the past few days. Many more of those days are coming along this summer. And you can bet your sweaty armpits, the humidity has been brutal.

Has it been as rough as it is on the Gulf Coast? Hah! Nope. It is humid enough for me to gripe about it from time to time.

I’ve already boasted about my adaptability. I won’t belabor that point. I do plan to adapt to this new/old climate in Princeton. Hey, we lived in the Golden Triangle, for criminy sakes! This final stint — for the duration — ought to be a piece of cake.